What is potting mix?
Potting mix consists of a mixture of components, designed to create the perfect growing circumstances for your plants. When you’re growing plants in containers or pots, a potting mix is needed to allow the plants to grow in these ‘unnatural’ circumstances.
The basic ingredients for most potting mixes are peat, perlite and compost. Many mixes also have sand, vermiculite and wood chips added. The less qualitative potting mixes have glass and rocks in them, these are cheap fillers but don’t add any value. Try to stay away from these mixes. Some contain chemical amendments, such as fertilizers and additives that help retain moisture. While these can help your plants to grow better, they are chemicals and when you want to grow organically, you want to stay away from those.
Difference between potting soil and potting mix
In general, you will use potting soil for outdoor usage and potting mix for indoor plants and seedlings. Why? Because soil is heavier than potting mix and is, therefore, less fit to put in containers. The plants in containers need air circulation in their roots. Potting soil is too heavy to allow plant roots to spread and doesn’t allow the water to penetrate the soil all the way to the bottom.
The different types
There are many different kinds of potting mixes. When you’re growing cacti or aloe, you’ll want to use a potting mix that’s porous and doesn’t hold too much water. Most standard potting mixes are suitable for growing vegetables, as long as they contain peat moss, perlite or vermiculite, pine bark, and coarse sand. The exception is growing orchids, there are special potting mixes for orchids and you really need one of those to increase your chances of success. Orchids are high maintenance flowers and need a mix that resembles their natural circumstances.
What to look out for when buying
The first and easiest rule is to make sure you read the list of ingredients. If the bag contains soil, it’s not a good fit for containers or other inside growing but mostly suited for raised beds or vegetable gardens. In general, the label ‘potting soil’ is not the way to go for inside growing, you need to look for real ‘potting mix’.
Another easy indicator is the weight of the bag. Potting mixes aren’t too heavy, as the permeability is one of its key characteristics. If a bag is really heavy, it’s probably potting soil instead of potting mix.
Best potting mix
We’ll share some of our favorite potting mixes with you, to get you started. Feel free to share your own experience with us, we’re always keen to learn!